Thursday, May 26, 2016

Monk helps Nepalese people in need

By Jhoo Dong-chan 

Song Wol-ju, or Ven. Wolju, established a non-governmental organization (NGO), The Good Hands, to help poor people across the world in 2003.

The 81-year-old Buddhist monk and The Good Hands have visited remote areas in poor countries, including Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia, to build water supply systems and schools.

Nepal is also one of the countries where the organization has worked since 2008, building schools, a youth education center and social enterprises.

"Last year's earthquake in Nepal killed 8,700 and injured 22,000 people. A total of 1.6 million children lost their schools," said Ven. Wolju.

"I believe education is fundamental in fighting poverty and improving the economy. The Good Hands have thus far built one youth education center, two public schools and three elementary schools."

When the earthquake struck the country in April of last year, The Good Hands carried out six different relief projects to help 60,000 Nepalese in need.

The goodwill organization has already spent over 900 million won ($758,000) to help students in its mission to Nepal this year and is now building another eight schools there.

Ven. Wolju said that the local people's participation in their school building operations is important.

"The Good Hands' ultimate goal is to help them stand on their own feet. Their participation in building the schools helps them develop self-reliance in fighting poverty," said Ven. Wolju.

"The Nepalese people have not only provided manpower but also filed civil complaints with the government over construction licensing. The Good Hands also stay for awhile even after completing the construction to help set up the school management."

In order to help The Goods Hands' overseas operations, some 18,000 people regularly make generous donations. Sometimes, private companies make huge donations as well, he said.

So far, The Good Hands have built a total of 2,300 water supply systems, 58 educational institutions and five social enterprises in 14 different countries including Nepal. It also carried out nine relief projects in regions struck by natural disasters as well as landmine removal operations in Southeast Asia.

"More than 900 million people are living on less than a dollar a day. Korea was once such a poor country after the Korean War, but overcame its economic difficulties with foreign aid. I believe that now is the time for us to help others in need."
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